Tiramisu for Cancer

I pooled a list of names of potential tasters a few days before I made the tiramisu. I had a candidate whom I thought would be an easy target in being turned into a raw food addict. then I remembered a promise I made to myself last week. I had to summon courage in seeing my grandfather, a dying cancer patient, by the end of this week.

Since late 2009, he had been in and out of the hospital for numerous organ failures. Grandpa was fed pills, after pills, after pills of medicines that I deemed pointless. They made him no better and only weaker by the day. What angered me even more was the fact that the family had fear played against them to keep hospitalised patients where they are.

“You can take him home, but there are these risks…” Of course. The fearful them listened to avoiding those risks.

He couldn’t eat solid foods during the time and was fed milk. MILK. According to them, milk was a necessary feed for the nutritional values it contained. I’m not going to argue over milk nutrition, but the milk also contained lactose Grandpa couldn’t digest, which, like any lactose intolerant sufferers would react with an upset stomach, it gave him an upset stomach; hardly mobile enough to bring himself to the bathroom, he soiled the bed. I cannot imagine the state of revulsion he had to go through against his own self.

By that time, I tried to reason with my anger by trying to educate my aunts and uncles in giving natural healing a shot, and take him out of the hospital environment. His condition was probably too late for any miracle curing, but the least we could do for him was maximise his level of comfort. They nodded, seemingly wanting to believe; but who am I to them standing against educated doctors, designed drugs, and life-sustaining machines? Just a 23-year old girl hardly qualified enough to know anything about dying. I knew that all too well. So I had to take matters into my own hands if I wanted to help. I instructed my mom to buy some green coconuts to feed him coconut water the next day. I wasn’t there to supervise the feeding for I had work, but Mom reported back and said we weren’t allowed to feed him such food. Grandpa was again, fed milk. At lowered dosage.

That was it. The time when I had sworn and wished to every God of this universe and other galaxies for the worst disasters to befall that very hospital, alongside with its doctors and nurses. Burn it to the ground, whatever. I haven’t stepped in or made any more efforts in Grandpa visits since. Frustration, too much of it. I had a voice, and no one was open-minded enough to hear it. So I stopped fighting for the lost battle. This was early February. Grandpa had been hospitalised a number of times again since, and I still refused to see him. I may have appeared like the inconsiderate granddaughter to everyone, but I couldn’t care less. No one would understand. Not in that room.

Time passed, and time did patch up my resentments. I made the promise last week to see him by this week. There was just one problem: I’m not very good of a conversationalist with the elderly in my family; our perceptions of the world are on totally different pages. Worse. Try different books. And of different languages. And to stare Death right in the eye with nothing to say from my end is unimaginable. So there, yesterday, I stared at the tiramisu I just freshly chilled and decided to bring it to Grandpa. “Sorry, Candidate A. Another believer would’ve been nice for my achievement. But this will save my conversation dry spell. I’ll have a story to tell.”

I went. I found him lying in bed with no strength to be able to sit himself up. Cancer has spread to his spine. He put a strong smile and repeatedly told me that he is well, and that he’s 80% healed. He doesn’t know it’s cancer eating his life. Nor does Grandma. Their children kept the knowledge away from them. Decided it is best for he would have lost his life spirit a long time ago.

I told him the great story behind my tiramisu; that unlike other cakes, he can eat this one like a meal. For breakfast, lunch, or dinner because it’s made up of just good stuff. Not even refined sugars.

Grandpa and Grandma were both impressed and wore the biggest smiles I haven’t seen in months.

  1. Hi Dom,

    I too find people refuses to open up to this idea of living food.

    I’ve been told “too extreme” because I eat more vegs than anyone else in the family. I don’t see anything wrong w eating vegs. of course maybe my being a raw vegan, vegan, vegetarian, omnivore back and forth confuses them. yea well…:) and maybe they got tired of me complaining “the vegs are overcooked”

    When I go to a restaurant and order “no MSG please”, my dad would look at me funny and tell me the food won’t taste as nice, sometimes he insists on the MSG.

    and I wish I had known more about food before my grandma passed. We could’ve given her more nutritious food. Vegan smoothie would be a daily thing.

    but I guess they’re not there yet…. hey…I’m not even there yet as I’m still learning, and I think I’ll be learning for life 🙂

    I hope your grandpa’s feeling better 🙂
    aside from eating well, I think a constant visit from a grand daughter will perhaps make him happier/healthier….even in silence 🙂

    • It’s not that people refuses to open up to the idea of this better-eating, I think. I sense there’s just lack of education in the sector, and lack of faith in food chain entrepreneurs to promote more whole-foods options. I’m talking about Jakarta. I hear a lot of “I don’t think people are ready” and “you give them two options, they’ll always opt for the grease”. Problem is, that’s what’s all being said around and pretty much everyone is afraid in risking to offer ‘healthier’ food choices in the market. End result is, we’re still trapped in the vicious SAD (Standard American Diet) diet cycle. Anyhoo.. Yes. I think visits from my end do wonders in lifting his spirits. 🙂 Maybe I’ll drop another today.

    • Jillian
    • May 5th, 2010

    I have been following your blog for a while (since the “raw food model” posted something about your pole dancing abilities, haha) But, I finally decided to comment because this post broke my heart in a couple of intimate ways. I started a raw food path about the same time my grandma was admitted to a hospital for a spine fracture, which they said was minor. Her health deteriorated shortly after, and no one considered the blobs of jello and microwaved brown goo to be part of the problem. They also over medicated and under cared for her during her final days in that institution and at the time I couldn’t believe humans could be so cruel to one another. My naivety has now been hardened by the realization that it was not a unique case and, in fact, happens everyday in the lives of millions of people.
    But you have done something tremendous here, that I never specifically did for my grandma during that time.
    I think the most rewarding thing that you have done and shown to them was that you truly care. You put effort and love into wholesome food, but also brought yourself around as company during an emotionally taxing time for everyone.
    It takes courage, to as you said, look death in the eye. I hope things get better for your family, it’s positive thinking and attitude that will carry you all further into recovery.
    Final thing, I don’t mean to be long winded and gushy, but I actually look forward to your posts. They’re humorous, inspiring and thoughtful… and usually make me hungry.

  2. It frustrates me to see how people are being fed by their surroundings these days. Kids encouraged to overeat for ‘nutrition’, family friends showering each other with baskets of fatty and sugary food gifts (a gesture of ‘I care’ or jealousy infused gesture of women’s ‘fat each other up’ competition, or perhaps a little bit of both), and finally like you said, hospitalised patients fed with such poor diet and overmedicated.

    I’ve come to terms with my frustration and anger by accepting the fact that there lacks education and awareness, and too much money-driven business and misleading marketing. I have big hopes to change that. Big piece of cake to bite, but I’m slowly working on it.

    I’m glad my posts are lifting in many ways. And hunger inducing 🙂

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